Hodges v. Cedars-Sinai Med. Ctr., 91 Cal. App. 5th 894 (2023)

Deanna Hodges, who worked for Cedars-Sinai as an administrative employee with no patient responsibilities, refused to get vaccinated for the flu, contrary to Cedars’ policy which required all of its employees to get vaccinated in an effort to limit employee transmission of the flu.  The only exceptions were for a “valid medical or religious exemption.”  Hodges refused to get vaccinated and convinced her physician (who had no expertise in advising whether a person should or should not receive a flu vaccine for “medical reasons”) to help her apply for an exemption from the vaccination policy. Cedars’ Exemption Review Panel denied Hodges’ request for an exemption because it did not meet the CDC’s criteria for a medical exemption.  Following the termination of her employment, Hodges sued Cedars for disability discrimination, among other things. The trial court granted Cedars’ summary judgment motion, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that Hodges failed to establish a disability or the perception by Cedars of a disability. Moreover, Cedars presented a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the termination that was not pretextual: Cedars’ mandatory vaccination policy was a product of its concern about patient safety and the guidance from the CDC and was not related to any disability Hodges purported to have.